It’s a very effective, spooky film, with some pretty conventional ghost-story elements which work better than they should, mostly because Stewart sells them so well. The writing also helps, of course, and I think one thing that makes it work is that there’s also a real, corporeal murder mystery going on at the same time — and the two tend to bleed into each other (so to speak).
The movie isn’t much interested in the murder mystery, but it’s there and the pieces make sense if you bother to think about them. I like mysteries, but I also like stories where the mystery is there but it’s not at the center.
On another front, I’ve always admired writers who can do things that I can’t possibly imagine myself doing.
For an analogy, my favorite movie director is Robert Altman. I love his films (well, most of them), but I can see how he does what he does. I see why the scenes affect me the way they do, though it’s certainly beyond anything I could imagine achieving myself, even if I directed movies.
But there are times that I’m in awe of Jim Jarmusch’s movies, since at his best I have no idea how they do what they do. Sometimes he shows three images and I’m knocked sideways, like if somebody tapped you on your left elbow, put a hand on your right shoulder, and beeped you on your nose, somehow putting you in a trance.
My stuff always tends to make sense, or at least it moves toward making sense. Even the things that I don’t explain (like why Vicki has superhuman strength) mostly have reasons.
There’s a comic book I’m particularly enjoying now, called Doom Patrol, mostly because it doesn’t make much sense but somehow everything works anyway. The Doom Patrol started in the early 1960s, right about the same time as the X-Men. The characters and situations between the books were very similar, and neither was very successful at first, but eventually the X-Men took off and more or less took over Marvel Comics, whereas the Doom Patrol just got weird (and weirder). The Doom Patrol book has got cancelled quite often, but it always comes back, at least for a while.
The main character now is Casey Brinke. She’s an ambulance driver, and a member of the Doom Patrol, and I think she has superpowers but I tend to forget what they are (it’s that sort of book).
In the most recent issue, Casey is driving her ambulance at top speed for the hospital, because her roommate, Terry, is about to give birth. Terry and Casey had sex a few hours ago (after falling out of their apartment together through the giant hole in the wall), and this sex has resulted in Terry being about to give birth now.
At no point does Casey protest that Terry can’t have gone through an entire pregnancy in a few hours, or that the pregnancy is rather unlikely anyway since they’re both women.
Instead, careening through the streets, followed by the other members of the Doom Patrol (on bicycles) and their current enemies (The Brotherhood of Nada — led by Mr. Nobody, Terry’s father) in a car, Casey’s only comment is “I can barely take care of a cat, I can’t be a mom!”
See, there’s no way I could possibly make that sort of thing work, which adds to my enjoyment of how it does (and I left out the backstory of the cat in question, Lotion, and the fact that Casey’s ambulance is sentient, and… a lot of other things).